Concerns Rise Over Lebanon’s Vaccine Choice Due To Storage Requirements

TDS/Mohamad Azakir

Given the government’s bad reputation with storing things, the country’s choice of vaccine can be concerning depending on how complicated the storing requirements needed are.

Looking back at this year alone, a prime example of Lebanon’s storing failure is the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that were stored haphazardly and led to the massive August 4 explosion at the Beirut Port.

Another regretful example is a large donation of flour from Iraq that was found poorly stored and damaged in a Beirut stadium.

However, the terrible storing ‘techniques’ don’t stop at the government, but with some citizens too, which is equally worrisome.

Over the summer, many accidents took place due to citizens recklessly stocking up on diesel and storing it in residential areas. One of these accidents left at least 4 dead and 50 injured.

And just last week, large amounts of expired sushi ingredients were found in a warehouse that supplies over 200 restaurants in Lebanon.

Hence, when it comes to Lebanon’s choice of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, there are some concerns about the country’s lack of ability to store or use it properly because of what this particular vaccine requires of complex storing conditions.

In comparing vaccines, Lebanese are wondering why the government chose the one with the most complex storing requirement i.e. in a freezer at -70C instead of just at regular fridge temperature.

With regular electricity cuts and the often shortage of diesel for backup generators, some wonder whether the choice was logical.

However, if it eases the nerves, Lebanon has established a committee to handle the import and storage of the vaccine because it requires special refrigeration, according to caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan.

For the time being, the country is rushing to pass a new law that will allow for the purchase of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which it had already presumably ordered, to begin with.

If that works out, Lebanon should be receiving the first batch of the vaccine about a month from now.

Meanwhile, to combat the surge in infections, Lebanon is about to enter a total lockdown and is declaring a state of emergency for 11 days, during which no one will be allowed out of their homes.

We have a dedicated coronavirus section where you can find the latest news/updates about the pandemic in Lebanon, inform yourself with WHO-verified resources, and track the number of cases in Lebanon in real-time. Click here.